Thursday, 15 September 2011

Expat fraud suspects arrested in Spanish mountain retreat


According to Spanish local media, police estimate that the couple, known as John and Amanda Treagust, may have netted up to £150,000 by advertising bogus Spanish rental properties, complete with pictures, on their website, Costa Blanca Live. Up to 60 holidaymakers, including Britons, French, Portuguese, Italians and Belgians, are alleged to have fallen for the scam and paid upfront for properties that weren't, in reality, available for rent, or had been rented out to multiple people. The pair ran a blog entitled Life on the Costa Blanca, and boasted of growing their business from a "small project" in 2007 to "a busy and bustling company.....with over five thousand properties managed directly by us, meaning you have the peace of mind that should anything go wrong, or should you have any concerns, we are here to help." Amanda Treagust, referred to as the company's commercial director, is described on the blog as "never resting until her clients are settled into that perfect property and are enjoying the Spanish lifestyle she has come to love and adore". The Treagusts were arrested at a small property in the mountains of Mojacar, Almeria, after an eight-month police operation following an initial complaint lodged back in February. Originally from the Chorley area of Lancashire, John Treagust used to run the Last Orders pub in Wallagate, Wigan. On the pub's Facebook page, created by Treagust, he says: "I had three happy years there, now running a property business in Spain." An online forum about the couple's business dates back to March 2009 and has been inundated with 23 pages of comment, containing more than 200 threads. One comment, posted on August 20 this year, read: "13 girls put down a deposit for a hen weekend away in a villa in Los Balcones also and were informed two days before that the villa was double-booked. As it was a special occasion we have to find somewhere else very quickly and pay the additional fees. "We have still not received any money back and are still chasing. We all want to take action and stop others suffering in the same way." Spanish police were unable to comment on the ongoing investigation.

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